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Disputing credit card fees and assessments

Credit card companies can be cutthroat about fees, whether charged for late payments, annual renewal of a card or a variety of other account related transactions.

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Many companies even specify to the hour when a payment must be received in order to avoid late charges: "Payment must be received before 1 p.m. on the 12th of the month."

But just because one of these charges shows up on your account statement doesn't mean it's correct. If your credit card company hits with a one-time charge or slaps a higher interest rate on your account because it says you were a tardy paying, don't automatically pay up. If you believe you haven't violated the terms of your credit card agreement, fight it.

The first step is to let your card issuer know that you think it's made a mistake. Stick to the facts and keep a written record of company representatives to whom you speak and what you believe was agreed upon.

The form letter below disputes a late-payment charge, but you also can use it to contest other fees or a surprise hike in your account's interest rate. Be sure to send it to the correct address; the office that deals with fees might not the same one to which you send your monthly payment. Check the back of your statement for the appropriate address to direct your inquiry.

Personalize the letter by entering your specifics in the areas in red. You can print out this Web page and make your changes by hand or copy the body of the letter and paste it into a document where you can make your changes on your PC.


Customer Service
Credit Card Company Name
Company's Address
City, State and ZIP Code

Re: Late charge on card name account number

Dear Sir or Madam:

I was charged a late fee of dollar amount on my last bill for the above-referenced account. I believe this late fee is in error.

I received my last bill on date. It was postmarked date. The bill had a due date of the number (e.g., 15th) day of month.

I mailed my payment on date, which was in plenty of time for your company to receive and process my payment by your due date of repeat date shown on bill.

If you have a copy of your canceled check confirming the date you wrote it, note that here and include a copy of your timely written and mailed check with this letter. If you do not have a copy but are expecting it in your next bank statement, let the card company know that you will provide additional documentation of your bill payment timeline as soon as you received it.

As you can see from the timetable above, I exercised reasonable and responsible judgment in paying my bill. Therefore, I am writing to ask that the fee be rescinded and the late charges removed from my bill.

If you have any questions or want to discuss this further, please contact me by phone at telephone number or write me at the address below.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Your Signature
Your Typed Name
City, State and ZIP Code

Enclosure: copy of check payment

Bankrate.com's corrections policy
-- Posted: Oct. 23, 2003
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